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Repairs - what are the landlord's responsibilities?

This advice applies to England

Your landlord has to do anything your tenancy agreement says they have to do.

Your landlord is also generally responsible for keeping in repair:

  • the structure and exterior of your home, for example, the walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and external doors
  • basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework
  • water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters.

These repair responsibilities can't be removed by anything your tenancy agreement says. Also, your landlord isn't allowed to pass on the cost of any repair work to you which is their responsibility.

Your landlord only has to make repairs when they know there’s a problem - so make sure you tell them about any repairs that are needed.

For tenancies that began on or after 15 January 1989, these repair responsibilities extend to the common parts of a building too, for example, entrance halls, stairs and lifts.

If your home isn’t safe for you to live in

If your home isn’t safe to live in, it might be ‘unfit for human habitation’ - this includes shared parts of the building like entrance halls and stairs.

Your landlord usually has to make sure your home is fit for human habitation if any of the following apply:

  • you agreed or renewed your current tenancy on or after 20 March 2019

  • your tenancy had a fixed term which ended on or after 20 March 2019 and you’re still in the property

  • you moved from a starter or introductory tenancy to another type of tenancy with the same landlord on or after 20 March 2019

Your home might be unfit for human habitation if for example:

  • it has a serious problem with damp or mould

  • it gets much too hot or cold

  • there are too many people living in it

  • it’s infested with pests like rats or cockroaches

  • it doesn’t have a safe water supply

It doesn’t matter if the problem was there at the start of the tenancy or only appeared later.

Make sure to tell your landlord about any repairs that are needed. Your landlord only has to do the repairs when they know there’s a problem - unless it’s a problem with a part of the building your landlord still controls, like the roof or the entrance hall.

Your landlord doesn’t have to make sure your home’s fit for human habitation if you caused the problem  by:

  • not looking after your home properly - for example not using the extractor fan after having a shower

  • doing something unreasonable - for example leaving candles burning when you go out

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re not sure if your home’s fit for human habitation.

Negligence

Negligence is generally about your landlord causing you injury or damage as a result of their careless or negligent behaviour.

For example, your landlord may be negligent if they didn’t do the repair work needed in your home after you told them about it, and as a result you injured yourself or your belongings were damaged. They could also be negligent if they did do the repair work, but did it carelessly or dangerously.

Private nuisance

A private nuisance happens when something in another property or in a common part of a building which is owned by your landlord, affects the use and enjoyment of your home. For example, if your landlord didn't maintain pipes in the roof space of your block of flats and water leaked into your home causing damage. In this instance, you could take action against the landlord based on nuisance.

Statutory nuisance

Your landlord mustn't cause a statutory nuisance. A statutory nuisance happens when your home is in such a state as to be harmful to your health or is a nuisance.

Disrepair that's harmful to your health could include dampness and mould growth.

Local authorities generally take action against landlords where there's a statutory nuisance.

The Defective Premises Act 1972

Your landlord owes you certain duties of care that are set out in this Act. They include a duty to prevent personal injury or damage to property caused by defects in your home. This duty is owed to you, members of your family, and also to visitors to your home.

The duty is owed where your landlord is under an obligation to repair or maintain your home, or has a right to enter the property to carry out maintenance or repairs.

The duty is owed if the landlord knows or ought to have known about the repair, even if you haven't told your landlord.

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

If you live in a HMO, your landlord has extra legal responsibilities on fire and general safety, water supply and drainage, gas and electricity, waste disposal, and general upkeep of the HMO.

A HMO generally covers houses divided into bedsitting rooms with shared facilities, shared houses and flats, hostels and bed and breakfast hotels that accommodate more than one household.

Some HMOs may also need a licence.

Safety in your home

Your landlord has specific responsibilities for gas and electrical safety, furnishings and asbestos.

Making adjustments if you're disabled

If you're disabled, your landlord may have a duty to make reasonable adjustments if you ask for them. However, your landlord doesn’t have to do anything that would involve the removal or alteration of physical features.

Find out more about asking your landlord to make reasonable adjustments. 

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